Archive for the 'Powerpop' Category

Album – Lloyd Dobler Effect – Lloyd Dobler Effect

Posted by admin on 15th January 2009

Lloyd Dobbler Effect sounds like something Doc, from Back to the Future would be looking for to generate the jigawatts of electricity need to bounce around in time. In fact it’s a Washington DC based band, that have a wonderful and energetic sound. There’s certainly no lack of musicanship on the 15 tracks on this album, which is not surprising as the band does around 200 gigs a year. With a hard rock sound, softened by more pop biased vocals, there is a nice balance between blowing the cobwebs out of your ears and lulling you into a false sense of serenity.

The album opens with “Have Faith” which for me, has a oddly soft rock feel, but really loosens up when the chorus chimes in. This is a funny track, as I could really feel it growing on me as the song progressed. “Radio” for me is where things really seem to fall into place. For a lot of songs on the album, I kept getting an 80’s slap across the head. It’s nothing really definitive, just a riff here and a lead in there.

While I really enjoyed the album, there was not enough here for me, that had a definitive stamp on it, a sound that would would allow me to pick out this band on the radio for instance. That being said, there’s some tracks on here that are real gems including the previously mentioned “Have Faith”, “Radio”, “The Past” and “I Have the Touch”.

Conclusion : There’s no denying the talents of this band. With such a touring schedule, I imagine they are pretty hot to see live. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this band, to see how they develop, but if you enjoy 80’s/90’s rock / pop then I think this will be right up your street.

Posted in Alternative, Powerpop, Rock | 2 Comments »

Album – Bingo – Rinaldi Sings

Posted by admin on 26th August 2008

OK I think I have to make a full disclosure here. Apart from being a huge fan of Rinaldi Sings, I’m also a Cockney, so when the opening line of the album unfolded:

“Cockney. Characteristic speech, of the greatest city, of the greatest empire, that the world has ever known”

I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise, I won’t mention what’s said after that. I’m not sure of the film, this line features in, but suffice to say, being so far away from the place I was born, it brought back a pang for the place I used to think of as home. This self conscious feeling soon passed as “You Take Me There” the first track of 11 got underway, and it was then that I suddenly realised that the last Rinaldi Sings album and indeed only the seventh album I ever reviewed, was way back in November of 2005. Admittedly it’s been a little while since I played the last album, but I can’t help but sense, things here are much more refined and Steve has managed to hone his craft even more than the previous release.

I’ve heard many albums that allude to that sixties sound, but although the albums are usually pretty good, they can’t help but end up being pastiches of the real thing. Here, things are very different. You very much feel that Steve Rinaldi has this music in his blood and it’s transposed directly from his soul. I’ve heard terms like “bubblegum Northern Soul” which doesn’t really do much for me. The phrase I love is one that I found on the PR material supplied with this CD, “Cockernee-toned pop”, and it’s this phrase that I feel gives many a simple insight into what to expect.

With the first track, there are all the hallmarks that listeners to the first album will remember, from the brass and guitars to the distinctive vocals of Steve Rinaldi. “You Got Me Believing” continues this characteristic sound. Where the first album had a few rough edges, they were in keeping with the overall feel of the CD. This CD also has that rough, almost raw edge to it. Steve’s vocals are certainly not Scott Walker, but I much prefer them, as they have a realness to them. “End of an Error” is an interesting song, as that 60’s sound is prevalent, and only betrayed slightly with the opening verse, relating to reading a text message. I can’t explain why, but when I heard that I couldn’t help but raise a wry smile.

“Bingo”, the title track is in fact the song that I had the most trouble with. Having listened to the album a couple of times, it just wasn’t my cup of tea, or so I thought. It’s a very atmospheric track, which I can well imagine being used on a soundtrack, showing the protagonists after they have just successfully completed a heist. It was when listening to the album in the car and hearing this track, that it just clicked with me. Whilst it’s still not my favorite track by an means, it’s not longer a track I feel the need to skip past. “The Only Show in Town” is a great laid back track, which has a wonderful piano solo in it, but the piano in this case is one that’s more akin to being found in a pub. Thinking about it, it’s more like a piano found in an old western saloon. It’s just those kinds of features in a song that raise my interest no end.

“Pick Me Up, Put Me Down”, is a pleasant track, but one that feels very much like a filler track. It has some nice brass featured, but seems to amble along. I absolutely love “Welcome”, especially the opening line:

“It’s been a long time. It’s good to see you mate. But it’s like meeting an old girlfriend, when you’ve put on some weight”

Upon hearing this line, I suddenly had a flashback of bumping into all my old girlfriends and couldn’t help again smiling. The other thing I particularly love on this track is the bassoon that gets featured later in the song. The bassoon is not an instrument you hear very often, in fact I though it was an oboe at first, as it’s been that long since I’ve heard a bassoon. Hearing it here, combined with some strings, just sounds so fresh and interesting. and again just makes this album feel much more mature than the previous one. The keyboards that open “Come as you are, You’re a star”, are very reminiscent of early Beach Boys songs, but the song soon breaks away from this preconception and turns into a fairly fast paced, pop song.

And yet again with “She Don’t Know”, there’s yet another instrument that you’d be hard pressed to heard on a modern pop song, the harpsichord. I’ve always had a soft spot for the harpsichord, since listening to the Beatle’s song “Girl” a million and one times and then more recently, but still many moons ago hearing it featured on the Strangler’s song “Golden Brown”. The track itself is terrific and is enhanced all the more, by the creative musical genius.

“Goodbye Steve McQueen” is the first track I heard in full from the album and it’s certainly managed to hit all the right spots and virtually had me salivating for the full album. While Steve McQueen was a big part of my growing up, he’s all but forgotten today, apart from his car chase in the movie Bullit and his abortive attempt at jumping a barbed wire fence in the movie “The Great Escape”. The track itself is fast paced, high octane and brass filled. Wonderful stuff.

The album closes with “Where Did It All Go Wrong Mr Best”, which is for me one of the weaker tracks on the album, but still very listenable. I think the thing that really spoiled this track for me, is the electric guitar solo that breaks in half way through the track. It’s funny that this then made the track feel very much like an album ender, but just doesn’t sit right with the rest of the tracks.

Overall a fantastic album, which tips a huge nod to the music of the 60’s, but also manages to assert a Rinaldi Sings stamp of it’s own. With a creative use of instruments and some great lyrics and music, this is an album I have long waited for and enjoyed immensely.

Conclusion : There’s many great rock, pop, R&B, Soul and a plethora of other good albums. However with so many other albums in the same genre competing for the attentive ears of music lovers, it’s great to come across an album that rises above the norm into a realm of it’s own. Were it not for the fact, I know full well that this is a modern release, I could have well believed this was a classic release from the 60’s. Authentic, creative and sheer unadulterated class.

Posted in Pop, Powerpop | No Comments »

Album – Kiss the Monster – P. Hux

Posted by admin on 13th May 2008

I may have shuffled around this mortal coil for 2 score years and nought, but it didn’t stop the wave of adolescence wash over me, when I first saw the name P. Hux, because the first thing my mind did, was put it together and say it phonetically. What can I say, maybe I should tell you about my childhood someday. Anyway the P in P. Hux, is actually Parthenon, not a name you come across everyday, but certainly one you’ll not forget in a hurry, which can also be said about the artist, whose track record is suitably impressive. He’s had a recording career that’s spanned nearly 30 years. His first recording earned critical acclaim, as have many of his subsequent releases. He has also been a member of ELO II, which makes a lot of sense, when you hear his sound.

The 11 tracks featured on this album, are sheer power pop at their finest. Indeed one of his first reviews commented “You could land a marlin with these hooks!”, and nearly 30 years later, not a lot has changed. This is finely crafted pop, that is instantly accessible. Although I’d seen the name P. Hux mentioned on various websites and indeed had received a couple of emails mentioning the name in passing, but it wasn’t until I listened to a special Coverville podcast episode, that I actually got the chance to listen to the music and was instantly hooked.

“Kiss the Monster”, the latest album, features 11 tracks, all of them prime examples of what makes an excellent power pop track. The first track is “Perfect” which when I first heard the vocals, reminded me of Gerry Rafferty, who had a big hit in the 70’s with “Baker Street” and was also a member of Steelers Wheel, who’s song “Stuck in the Middle” was a track featuring prominently in the movie Reservoir dogs. Anyway I digress. The track opens and apart from the aforementioned vocals, there are some very interesting, almost Roger McGuinn / Byrd’s jangly guitars, which are just wonderful. “Yet to Say” is a track that hides behind and interesting, fairly mild intro and then bursts forth into an amazing track, which you can’t help but move to.

There’s something oh so familiar with both “Wear My Ring” and “Bones”, which I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m sure it’s their similarity with a couple of other more popular tunes, but I can neither think of the track nor artists, not that it matters a jot, they are still great songs, although a little more mellow and relaxed.

“Come Clean” is another great track, which unfortunately blemishes an otherwise brilliant album. The reason for this is the occasional F bomb used here and there. Not that I’m a prude, I love Radiohead’s, album version of “Creep”, but it’s very in keeping with the album, here it just didn’t feel right, in the midst of the other tracks. Of the remaining 6 tracks, the one that really excited me was P. Hux’s version of The Beatles’ “Looking Through You”. I’m a huge Beatles fan and always approach covers with a sense of excitement and apprehension. From the guitar opening, it’s all there, great music and vocals.

The final two tracks on the album, take things down a few notches. “Just Might Fly” has a really nice lyrical flow and indeed could have easily ended the album. It is however “Everything’s Different Now” which closes the proceedings. A real look into the void kind of track, which really appeals to the darker side of my musical tastes.

It’s funny that many times with albums, the title track is the strongest, or so I hope, track on the album. With an album name like Kiss the Monster, I was really looking forward to hearing a title track, but alas it never materialised. Probably me just being silly, but I can just imagine “Kiss the Monster” as a real raucous, rousing powerpop smash.

Conclusion : If there were a text book, to detail what makes a powerpop tour de force, this would certainly feature heavily as reference material. A terrific collection of some of the finest powerpop I’ve heard in a long time.

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Album – Spark – Peter Searcy

Posted by admin on 30th November 2007

  • Band / Artist : Peter SearcymySpace
  • Genre : Rock / Powerpop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : Amazon
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8 out of 10

I have to admit when I put this album on for the first time, the song that greeted me, “The Summer Behind US”, brought back memories of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky. Yes a huge compliment and one that I’m sure will prick up the ears of ELO fans everywhere. It has that infectious summer pop beat and melodic lyrics that would surely sound at home on radios everywhere.The second track also has that deja vu sound, but I couldn’t quite narrow in on who it reminded me of. Similar to the first track it has a wonderful pop sound that really started to get me excited about the rest of the album.

Of the twelve tracks on this album, it’s around a 50/50 split between infectious pop and that more laid back sound that gives balance to album, providing a nice contrast. While on the whole this is a great album, it does have a couple of tracks that feel a little listless, “Bird Song” and “Truth Rises”, being the ones that failed to capture my imagination. “Don’t Let A Day Go By (Acoustic)” is very much on the road to mellowville, and I have to admit, it wasn’t a track that immediately struck a chord with me. I think the main reason for this is the very raw and emotive lyrical delivery, in conjunction with being a solely acoustic track. This is something that I normally really love, but here I thought he was singing in too higher key, which seemed somehow not to feel right. It was while listening to this album while on a flight, that this track just seemed to click with me. I think some of this may have been my emotional state, having missed my wife and kids, but on listening to it again, I couldn’t help but be moved by the sheer rawness of it.

The title track, while being a nice song, just didn’t have that oomph that I always look for in a title track. It’s a good song, don’t get me wrong, but wrongly or rightly I always want a title track to be a kind of 2-3 minute advertisement for the rest of the album and here I didn’t think the track does the album justice.

I love how Peter’s voice sounds on the track “In the Morning”. As I often do, I try to imagine an artist’s singing live and here I can just imagine Peter kicking some serious arse. The final track is a studio working of “Don’t Let a Day Go By” and just a sheer brilliant way to sign off an album. I’d love style here to be used on the acoustic track and I’m sure it would really ascend that version to a higher level.

Conclusion : Not an immediate hit with me, but something that really grew on me like a weed. A very welcome weed indeed. I’m sure from this spark a mighty fire will roar.

Posted in Powerpop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – She’s About to Cross My Mind – The Red Button

Posted by admin on 16th August 2007

  • Band / Artist : The Red ButtonmySpace
  • Genre : Pop / Rock / Powerpop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 8.5 out of 10

When it comes to recreating the sounds of the 60’s, I don’t think anyone can ever better The Rutles, a fictional band created by Neil Innes, for a mockumentary inspired very much by the Beatles. That being said, I think The Red Button comes pretty darn close, with this incredible collection of 11 tracks, which really do feel like they’ve been lifted directly from the height of the 60’s.

Opening with “Cruel Girl”, this is more Byrds than Beatles, but it’s 100% 60’s. The title track here, draws this time on another of the many 60’s influences and while you do feel like you’ve heard it all before, it’s still very engaging to listen to. When I got to “Floating By” it’s almost like a pastiche of The Rutles, which is really taking things full circle.

I mentioned recently on the podcast, that the perfect length for a pop song, is around the 2 to 3 minute mark and all but one of the tracks here, fall within that range. The only longer track is just a touch under 4 minutes, so still near that ideal range. That means that this 11 track just flies by. Everytime I’ve listened to this album, I end up with an amazing sense of happiness and think that this is could raise all but the blackest of spirits.

Conclusion : If the 60’s is right up your alley, then you’re really going to enjoy this album. I can just image someone buying this and getting the 60’s bug all over again.

Posted in Pop, Powerpop, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Make Some Time for Wasting – The Katie Todd Band

Posted by admin on 22nd April 2007

  • Band / Artist : Katie ToddmySpace
  • Genre : Pop / Powerpop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

Overlooked. Falling through cracks. You’ve heard it all before. I never said I was perfect, but hopefully some of the gems I manage to uncover, make up for my occasional tardiness. The Katie Todd Band has been languishing in the Indie Launchpad pile for a while. I have to admit, I actually thought I’d already reviewed it. I was playing the album on my Pocket PC, confident that this was one of the great album I’d covered, when I had that thunderbolt of uncertainty. Sure enough, when I got back to my computer, I found that I hadn’t in fact got around to putting fingers to keys.

This 11 track CD has a very tight feel to it. The music is flawless, but again I was captivated upon Katie uttering the first word. Admittedly whilst I find Katie’s voice amazing, it wouldn’t be half as effective were it not for the music itself and the musicians who provide her great backup.

“Face Down” starts with a very 70’s guitar feel to it and some great understated piano. Katie’s voice has a wonderful, sexy, very sensual feel to it I don’t have her bio in front of me, by I can detect the merest hint of a Scottish accent. I’m probably totally wrong, but I’d be surprised if she didn;t have some Scottish/Celtic in her family. “Leave” is one of my firm favorites on the album. It has a great jaunty, rock feel to it, that is almost infectious. However it’s when you get to the chorus that Katie’s voice soars. “Figure it Out” is one of the tracks that gives me deja vu. It’s a much darker track, but again, the vocals manage to stop it drowning in despair. “In and Around” draws you in with it’s infectious music and just goes to reinforce the album as a whole.”Kweller” is a bit of an odd one for me, with it’s jangly, almost folk sound. A nice track, but just not in keeping with the rest of the album.

The second half of the album begins with “Wonder Woman”. I absolutely love this track. It reminds me greatly of one of my favorite female vocalists, Sam Brown. It’s again a darker track, but still manages to flow with the rest of the CD. “Player” makes a fast about turn and while it’s a nice track, it feels very much like a filler song. “You Hide it Well” again has that Sam Brown feel to it, with husky, smoky vocals. It’s a track that eases towards the end of the album very nicely. “Oz” again feels like a bit of an odd one, nice track, but nothing to really pull out as exceptional. “Jake’s Song” again showcases Katie’s voice and leads into the final track nicely. “This Time” finishes the album off with a relaxed track, featuring some great whimsical piano.

Conclusion : A wonderful voice, wonderful music and stellar cast of supporting musicians. I’m really hoping to hear much more of Katie and herb and over the coming year and will be doing some active digging to find out when to expect some new material.

Posted in Pop, Powerpop | No Comments »